The Indian defense officials were dissatisfied with the real tactical and technical characteristics of the Russian Pantsir missile system (Pantsir-S1), and are likely to give preference to its South Korean counterpart system.
The Indian military department is disappointed with the actual characteristics of the air defense missile system.
Pantsir-S1 that Russia previously expressed its willingness to export. As the newsportal Voyennoye Obozreniye writes with reference to the Indian media, unfavorable conclusions were made after the Russian system had been tested in the desert. The K-30 Biho system (Flying Tiger) proposed by South Korea met most of the customer's requirements.
The portal notes that the Russian Defense Ministry has no intentions of accepting the loss of the foreign economic contract, as the latter is expected to bring in $2.5 bln. For comparison, the budget of the high-profile deal between Moscow and Ankara which received air defense missile complexes S-400 was almost the same. New Delhi has not made yet a final decision on the supplier of self-propelled missile launchers. The final verdict is to be delivered by the National Defence Acquisition Council by the end of January. This information has been confirmed to The Economic Times by well-informed sources in the Indian Government.
The sources point out that New Delhi is prepared to face indignation of the Russian side. Moscow is expected to protest against the decision of the Indian government. At the informal level, Russia has already stated that it objects to the results of comparative tests, which led to the choice of South Korean complexes. Russian representatives claim that the disqualification of Pantsir-S1 was made unfairly. According to insiders, at the same time, testing of self-propelled systems was carried out in various locations, including the desert. The test results showed that only the South Korean complex produced by Hanwha Defense turned out to meet all the stated requirements. Russia offered not only Pantsir-S1 but also an improved Tunguska-M1 missile system. Both were recommended for use under different conditions. However, none of them met the requirements to the full extent or accomplish all the tasks during the tests. Mobility turned out to be the weakest element of the complexes: they could not cover the required distance in the allotted time.
The Economic Times recalls that back in last year, New Delhi made no secret of its encouraging assessment of the South Korean complexes. At that time, the Flying Tiger was included in the list of top contenders for the purchase but the deal wasn’t made, primarily due to Russian activity. The latter made an official claim to the monitoring department of the Indian Defense Ministry. Insiders believe that Moscow hopes to get consent to a retest of the competing setups in the field, assuming that as the results of it Pantsir-S1 will be recognized as meeting the criteria.
However, New Delhi is not willing to look for any replacement for the Flying Tiger but ready to bargain about the price with its manufacturer. According to the sources, Russia's desire to frustrate the deal with South Korea can be easily explained since Moscow is a key supplier of ground-based complexes for the Indian Armed Forces.
Back in 2013, India announced its plans to purchase foreign air defense systems for the first time. Testing of the complexes proposed by partner countries took two years. It is noteworthy that earlier New Delhi preferred K-9 South Korean self-propelled artillery complex having the second name Vajra. Tula News Media notes that State Unitary Enterprise Instrument Engineering Design Bureau located in Tula, 190 km to the south of Moscow, was the developer of Pantsir-S1. The complex is used for protection of objects of different purposes including long-range air defense installations against missile attacks. The system makes it possible to protect objects from attacks with the help of different up-to-date reentry vehicles including the missiles fired from subsurface and surface launch installations. Pantsir detects enemy reentry vehicles within a radius of 75 km and intercepts them at a distance of up to 40 km. It should be noted that last May, well-connected sources told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the U.S. authorities actively discouraged India from purchasing the Pantsirs. Allegedly, Washington offered its THAAD and Patriot complexes instead.